Moving to Plan H
Carmel Valley debates about growth and local control rage beyond Measure G.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
They could be licking their wounds on Measure G’s narrow defeat. But instead, the smart-growthers of Carmel Valley are spinning the November election as a success of sorts, noting the record 73 percent turnout after a campaign in which both sides used nearly identical slogans.
“It was a phenomenal display of unanimity. We want to keep the valley rural,” activist Glenn Robinson says. “The best way to do that, and we all agree, is to have land-use policies for which that is the goal and the outcome.”
To that end, Robinson and his fellow pro-incorporation town council candidates – who would have been seated, had Measure G passed – have proposed six policy suggestions. Four are tailored for the draft county general plan, GPU5: maintain the Carmel Valley Master Plan, codify a 2002 moratorium on subdivisions, remove the “special treatment area” status for the proposed Rancho Cañada subdivision, and keep traffic triggers on Carmel Valley Road.
But Scott Dick, who ran for town council on an anti-G platform, sees no reason to go there. A permanent ban on new subdivisions would open up a legal challenge (and more delays) to GPU5, he says. He feels Rancho Cañada should keep its current status. And he argues development discussions shouldn’t be hidden in debates about traffic triggers; the county staff assessment shows Carmel Valley Road will support 266 more legal lots of record.
The smart-growthers are also pushing two institutional changes, including giving the district supervisor veto power on Carmel Valley projects. The group also lobs the concept of a Carmel Valley Municipal Advisory Council, empowered to make local land use, road and planning decisions, subject to county appeal.
Establishing a MAC wouldn’t require a ballot referendum, but would be voted on by the Board of Supervisors, according to Kathleen Lee, Supervisor Dave Potter’s chief of staff.
Dick says an advisory council would “back-door” the equivalent of a town council: “The MAC is dead, it was decided when two-thirds of the community voted for the status quo, either by staying home or voting no [on Measure G].”
But Robinson says a MAC is “a far cry from an independent town council,” leaving Carmel Valley finances under county control. “You get a lot more local input, but the Board of Supervisors still gets final say,” he says.
County staff hope to respond to GPU5 public comments by late January, says Carl Holm, the county’s assistant planning director. A Planning Commission hearing is expected around late February, and the plan may be ready for Supe consideration by early spring.